20 Must-visit Buddhist Temples in South Korea

Buddhism in South Korea

Buddhism was first adopted on the Korean peninsula by the Goguryeo in 372 CE then by the Silla in 528 CE and finally by the Baekje in 552 CE. Currently, the Jogye and Taego Orders are the most common in South Korea.

South Korea has no national religion and no majority religion. Instead, South Korea considers itself free religious society. Some poles say that Korean includes people with no religious affiliation (46%), Christians (29%) and Buddhists (23%). However, such numbers change dramatically based on the organization conducting the research.

One of the reasons polling religious affiliation in South Korea can be complicated is the fact that Korean society holds a somewhat unique pluralistic view of religion. Such a pluralistc view of religion means many Koreans consider themselves both Christian and Buddhist and see no issue with practicing both religions.

Each year South Korea celebrates Buddha’s birthday as a major national celebration. In fact, most Korean’s take of more time for Buddha’s birthday than they do for Christmas.

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How many Buddhist temples are there in South Korea?

There are over 900 Buddhist temples in South Korea. CNN even came out with their list of 33 of South Korea’s most beautiful temples in 2020. We think CNN’s list of temples is fantastic. however, we also feel CNN missed a few of our favorite unique temples in South Korea. We decided to offer up our more localized list of temples you need to see when living in South Korea.

What cultural rules are there for visiting Buddhist temples?

South of Seoul blogger, Angie, put together an amazing blog all about Korean Buddhist temple etiquette. We highly recommend reading this detailed and helpful blog as you explore the South of Seoul Korean Buddhist Temple Adventure Map listings.

Why were these temples chosen for the South of Seoul Buddhist Temples Adventure Map?

We made the Buddhist Temples Adventure Map by looking at what temples are often recommended in the Pyeongtaek Travelers Facebook group, which temples our volunteers enjoy the most, which temples offer the most unique experiences and the temples with strong historical value.

Buddhist Temples Adventer Map

We created a Buddhist Temples Adventure Map to make exploring Korea’s temples more approachable and easy to manager.

Map Color Coding:

  • The red temple names are considered three of the most important temples in South Korea.
  • The blue temple names have ocean views or are on the ocean.
  • The white temple names are simply lovely.

Supported via the South of Seoul app:

You can search “temple adventure map” in the South of Seoul listings to see each Buddhist Temple listed on the adventure map. Download the South of Seoul app to have all of this information available in the palm of your hand as well as ideas for what to do in the areas around these temples. The South of Seoul app makes all of your South Korean adventures more fun and easy.

20 Must-Visit Buddhist Temples in South Korea

Gakwonsa Temple

Gakwonsa Temple5

041-561-3545

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 각원사길 245

One of the largest temples in Gyeongju, quiet Gakwonsa Temple is nestled at the foot of Mount Taejosan. Among the sights to see is a towering bronze Buddha, but there are also numerous nature trails winding through the forest and up the mountain. There are no admission fees, and there is plenty of parking. The temple is a lovely place to bring your family for an afternoon of exploration and reflection.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Cheonchuksa

Cheonchuksa0

02-954-1473

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

서울 도봉구 도봉산길 92-2

A beautiful mountainside temple in northern Seoul.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Magoksa

Magoksa0

041-841-6221

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 공주시 사곡면 마곡사로 966

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Sinheungsa

Sinheungsa0

033-636-7044

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

강원 속초시 설악산로 1137

One of the most beautiful temple sites in Korea.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Naksan Temple

Naksan Temple5

033-672-2447

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

강원 양양군 강현면 낙산사로 100

A beautiful and famous temple located on the East Sea near Sokcho.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Hyuhyuam Hermitage

Hyuhyuam Hermitage0

033-671-0093

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

강원 양양군 현남면 광진2길 3-16

Stunning coastal temple.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Manggyeongsa

Manggyeongsa0

033-553-1567

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

강원 태백시 태백산로 4246-168

A stunning temple hidden away in Taebaek National Park. Please note that there are two temples with similar names in the same area. Use the full Korean name to locate the correct temple.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Cheongryangsa

Cheongryangsa0

Hangul Address

경북 봉화군 명호면 청량산길 199-152 관리사

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Beopjusa

Beopjusa5

043-543-3615

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충북 보은군 속리산면 법주사로 379

One of Korea’s most stunning temple complexes. An easy walk from town with hiking that takes off into the mountains.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Naejangsa

Naejangsa0

063-538-8741

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

전북 정읍시 내장산로 1253

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Daewonsa

Daewonsa 5

Hangul Address

경북 포항시 북구 흥해읍 해안로1545번길 24

Donna, Pyeongtaek Travelers: Very interesting temple. As you see you enter through the dragon’s mouth. The journey is through the body of the dragon. I combined the trip to Poyang with a trip to Gyeongju. It is about a 3.5 hour drive from Humphreys with stops. Please note, there are temples across Korea with this same name.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Songgwangsa

Songgwangsa0

063-243-8091

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

전북 완주군 소양면 송광수만로 255-16 송광사

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Tapsa

Tapsa0

063-433-0012

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

전북 진안군 마령면 마이산남로 367

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Haeinsa Temple

Haeinsa Temple 0

02-832-0108

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경상남도 합천군 가야면 해인사길 122

Beautiful temple at Gayasan National park where you can stay.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Taeansa

Taeansa0

Hangul Address

전남 곡성군 죽곡면 원달리 17

This temple is especially beautiful in the fall. There is a long drive through stunning scenery as well.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Tongdosa

Tongdosa0

055-382-7182

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경남 양산시 하북면 통도사로 108

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple5

051-722-7744

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

부산 기장군 기장읍 용궁길 86

Stunning coastal temple popular with tourists. Except a lot of people on a beautiful day.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Boriam

Boriam0

055-862-6115

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경남 남해군 상주면 보리암로 665

Beautiful temple in the mountains. Boriam Hermitage was first established in 683 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) near the end of his life. Wonhyo-daesa was drawn to this location because of the amazing appearance of the mountain. Wonhyo-daesa saw light emitting from the mountain. Wonhyo-daesa described this light as a “light beyond description.” So he named the mountain Mt. Bogwangsan, and he named the new temple Bogwangwa Temple. Boriam Hermitage gained famed as the site where General Yi Seong-gye (King Taejo), who would become the founding king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), performed ritual prayers. It’s believed that Yi Seong-gye (King Taejo) stayed at Boriam Hermitage for one hundred days to seek guidance to sufficiently lead his new kingdom, as well as to have the wisdom and good fortune to establish this new kingdom. It’s also believed that Yi Seong-gye (King Taejo) promised Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and the local Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) that he would wrap the entire mountain in silk if he was successful in his establishment of a new dynasty: the Joseon Dynasty. Sadly this promise was never fulfilled; but his future successor, King Hyeonjong of Joseon (r.1659-1674) would carry out this promise by renaming the mountain where Boriam Hermitage is located from Mt. Bogwangsan to Mt. Geumsan. It was also at this time that the temple was renamed to Boriam Hermitage from Bogwangsa Temple. Boriam Hermitage means “Enlightenment Hermitage” in English. At this time, Boriam Hermitage was designated as the “vowing temple of the royal family.” Boriam Hermitage is one of the five most famous temples in Korea for the worship of Gwanseeum-bosal. It’s a Gwaneum-doryang, and it’s reputed that Boriam Hermitage is one of five sites where Gwanseeum-bosal is supposed to dwell in Korea. More recently, Boriam Hermitage has undergone three renovations and reconstructions in the 20th century. The first took place in 1901, followed by one in 1954. The final of the three renovations took place in 1969 with the completion of the large, stone statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal that overlooks the South Sea. http://koreantempleguide.com/boriam-hermitage-%EB%B3%B4%EB%A6%AC%EC%95%94-namhae-gyeongsangnam-do/

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Hyangilam

Hyangilam0

061-644-4742

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

전남 여수시 돌산읍 향일암로 60

The Yeosu Hyangiram Hermitage is a Buddhist institution with stunning water views.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)